We were in Stuttgart last week touring the Mercedes-Benz design center and they let some juicy details slip regarding the future of the color and trim department. They're currently developing all sorts of new materials for use on the inside of their cars, largely in response to last year's leather shortage. But the new materials are not limited to upholstery—new veneers are in the works as well.
Upholstery - Take a trip to Saville Row
We were told to think of the 1920's: silk, cashmere, wool, and linen. We were shown samples of some beautiful materials including a fantastic looking silver quilted silk. One might be skeptical about the durability of a silk or cashmere seat, but we can be rest assured that Daimler is putting a lot of research into making these new fabrics as durable as possible. The optional woven leather on the SLS AMG was in development for years before they managed to get it to stop snagging on belts—probably why it costs €300/square meter. When we asked whether that material would be available on other vehicles in the future the reply was, "Yes, for the people willing to pay for it."
Veneer - Mixing it up... a bit
Don't worry, Burl Walnut veneers are never leaving the Mercedes line-up. If you're looking for a little less tradition and a little more avant-garde in your interior, the future's open-pore woods will suit you. Instead of the glossy, perfectly smooth finish we're all used to, the wood is still sealed and stained but retains its natural texture. This not only creates a modern feel to the veneer, but it also reflects light in very interesting ways. One other thing which peeked our interest: granite veneer. Apparently it's been developed, but poorly received when it first previewed. We would like to see it and make our own decisions though, because we think it sounds cool. What do you think?
Seat Covers - Not just faux sheep skin any more
Imagine a car that came with the ugliest seat in the world. It would be this ugly because the seats would be upholstered in muslin or canvas or something equally nasty. Since you just spent $78k on this car, with these seats, there damn well better be something more to it. Mercedes is considering shipping cars out with winter and summer seat covers. Imagine having one car that has linen upholstery that in-seat AC passes right through in the summer, and a wool-cashmere blend with fur lining around the hips and neck in the winter. This is what we were told is in the works. Since a full fur seat would make the car look like Huggy Bear's Benz, the design team at Daimler decided to try just putting it where it counts the most. These ideas are still in a concept stage though, so who knows how much of this could make it into production in the future.
Believe it or not, Benzes might be even more fly in the future. Keep an eye out and start saving yesterday.